Studies in Genesis 3
But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5 ESV)
If I am correct in my thinking then God wanted Adam and Eve and all of Man to know the difference between good and evil. God, the Creator, knows the time He wills to introduce knowledge which will lead to maturity. This is not the time but is a test which would probably usher in the right time.
That which is inhabiting the serpent, the Deceiver, continues speaking half-truths. A partial truth is still a lie and still designed to deceive. It, the Deceiver, tells Eve that God lied. God said “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die (dying you will die)” (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV). Not only will you die if you disobey and eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil but you will die again, a second death. For the Deceiver to state Eve would not die is a contradiction of the stated consequences of rebellion against God’s command.
Here are some educated assumptions. The Deceiver has already rebelled against God. Created by God for service to Him and at His pleasure the Deceiver did not originally have the design to rebel against God. Nothing God creates, and God created everything, was evil or designed for evil. There is, however, the ability to choose evil for those creatures given the capacity to do so. Man was given the image of God in a created body. Part of the image of God is the ability to choose, to decide, to act. Whatever the Deceiver was it had the ability to choose, decide and act and did so through rebellion. This does not mean creatures other than Man may have been given the image of God, for there is more to His image than the ability to choose, decide and act.
When the Deceiver rebelled God did not immediately bring death, but allowed it to continue to live. So to, the Deceiver told Eve she would not die. It knew, at least for a time, she would continue to physically live. God did not say judgment was immediate. He did say judgment was absolute. When Man rebelled death was not immediate but still guaranteed.
Those who are living cannot understand what death is until it is experienced. When the body dies, it does not immediately cease to exist. In fact, the physical properties of the body after death are slowly re-absorbed into the larger creation. God formed the man from existing material. “Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7 ESV). So, when the physical body of Man dies it does not cease to exist but returns to the material from which it was initially created.
There is a second death. We can only know about this second death through personal experience and by the little God tells us. At this point, we know nothing of the second death other than there is another death that is probably spiritual because it is not physical. Rebelling against God brings God’s judgment which is a second death. The Deceiver knows this, deliberately lying to Eve and in doing so stating God is the liar.